I shall imagine house-hunting to be not the funniest thing to do in life, no matter the city. In 3 years living in London, I moved a grand total of 5 (soon to be 6) times (which is the main reason for me to be MIA, sorry guys!). This doesn’t make me anything like a Pro, but I certainly learned a few things along the way, which I hope you guys will find useful.
1. Know your priorities
Location, number of rooms, storey, nbumber of bathrooms…You name it, there’s no right or wrong with priorities!
2. Make a realistic budget and try to stick to it
Ok, this is a boring mum adivce. But be realistic with your budget. London rents are just insane! So if you are about to rent in London, buckle up! Unless you’re really lucky the madjority of your salary will go into rent. Keep in mind that if you are not a student, you’d have to pay council tax, on top of water, gas (if applicable), energy and internet. So make sure to make a budget that would fit monthly rent with bills, leaving on the side money for groceries and extras (you gotta have fun too!) and, ideally, some savings for rainy days!
3. Websites and Agencies
I’m a little wary of Gumtree so I never went down that road. I always used websites such as SpareRoom, Rightmove and Zoopla. Look at the pictures and the price. If you notice the price is too low for the room/house shown, it is more likely to be a scam. Another thing about pictures, if they are taken with the “fish eye lens” they are probably very small. Also, make sure to take possible agency fees in consideration when checking properties out.
4. Background check
Always make sure to do a little background check on the agency/person you’re potentially going to rent from. LinkedIn, as well as Facebook, are a great way to have a rough idea of the kind of person you are dealing with. When dealing with agencies you found on the the above mentioned websites, make sure to check out the agency website to see if they have a variety of properties for any kind of budgets. It is very unlikely for a professional agency to just have “crappy” studios or beautiful penthouses.
5. Little things to look out for
Ok, so now you fixed some viewings. This is a great time to get a feeling of the possible new area you’re going to live in. Look out for eventual night bus stops to come home from nights out! When at the property, there are some things I feel is important to check. Mould is a huge no no, check on the ceilings, bathrooms and windows. Check the quality of the house overall – is the carpet clean? Is the door secure enough? Finally, look out for storage space and other pet peeves you might have.
Before leaving make sure to recap all the main informations – such as rent, bills, agency fees and so on. You don’t have to make any decisions at this point yet.
6. What documents should be asked to you
Once you made your decision, you’ll probably be asked for a little bit of money to secure priority on the house, this is usually not a lot of money. The agency or landlord, if professional enough, will ask you of your working status and last three salaries, and bank statements.
7. Ask for a copy of the contract before signing anything
Before signing anything ask to be sent a copy of the contract so you can read it thoroughly and quietly. This would save you the rush to sign “here and there” and to clarify/change anything your are not comfortable with. Make sure your deposit is covered by a protection scheme, and ask the landlord/agency to go through what it entails with you. Don’t be afraid to ask question! There’s a lot of money involved and you need to make sure you understand and are fine with everything. Finally, pay the deposit and first month rent the day of signing the contract and passing of the keys, not before that. I advise to always pay by bank transfer, so just in case something goes wrong you can either stop the payment, or track the money down.
Last but certainly not least, the most important rule of them all…BELIEVE YOUR GUTS! With all my house hunting experiences my gut’s feelings always turned out to be true, for better or for worse. With that, I am not saying you should make rushed decisions, but if you are not convinced about something, let it be, in these cases is better to be safe than sorry.
Hope this post will be useful to any of you! And if you’re house hunting…Good Luck!!
Disclaimer: This post is not meant to be no Bible, is just tips and tricks I gathered from my personal experience.